Sad passing of Prof Howard Kirby, former TRI Director

It is with great sadness that Professor Howard Kirby, former Director of TRI, passed away on Wednesday after a difficult battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

Howard joined TRI as its first full-time Director in February 1997 until 2007, with the appointment as Professor of Transport Studies until his retirement in January 2008 with the title Professor Emeritus.  He previously worked as Deputy Director of Research at ITS Leeds.  By the end of January 1997 the university had in place what became the TRI Advisory Board and the TRI Main Board (which involved deans from all the faculties), both bodies chaired by the Chair of TRI, Professor Malcolm Buchanan.  TRI became not only cross-disciplinary in its approach to research but also cross-institutional, thereby encouraging synergy.  Redwood House (at 66 Spylaw Road) was designated as the ‘TRI ‘headquarters.’

During his time, the following appointments were made:

  • Dr Stephen Stradling as Reader in Behavioural aspects of Transport
  • Professor Marcus Wigan (formerly Chief Scientist of the Australian Road Research Board) as a part-time (3 months per year) Professor of Transport Systems, initially for two years
  • Professor Austin Smyth as Professor of Transport Economics
  • Professor Margaret Grieco as Professor of Transport and Society
  • Professor Christiane Bielefeldt (formerly a project officer with the European Commission) as Visiting Professor in Strategic Transport Management
  • James Wentworth (formerly a senior official in the USA Federal Highway Administration) as Visiting Professor in Intelligent Transport Systems with effect from May 1999 (and from January 2000 to June 2000 as part-time Professor of Transport.

We were fortunate to be re-acquainted with Howard during TRI’s 25th anniversary celebration in 2021 where he spoke about his leadership of TRI.  TRI’s ‘Timeline’ event – Thursday 29th April – TRI’s 25th anniversary events (

He will be remembered for his dedication to transport research and was a valued friend and colleague to many.  Our thoughts are with his family.

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